Nature or Nurture… Both?

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Have any of you ever wondered why our environments matter so much to us? Why the “what if”s even come to question or the outcomes of what we do or why we do it always seem to come down to the details?

Well, it’s like they say: Nature and nurture. Some of the things we do are simply human nature. And some of it, well, it’s influenced by the world around us.

Think about it; have you ever done something without thinking, maybe say a word or pet a dog, and a child mirrored exactly as you had just done? It’s like finishing a test and waiting around while you pretend to work until someone else gets up and turns theirs in first—their actions are permission, affirmation, that it is what you’re supposed to do.

Sometimes our surroundings set the standards.

And I’ve been thinking about that because I am going into my senior year of college, and if you’ve followed me since the beginning, you would know that ending up at Cal Poly was a road with a lot of… details. Getting denied, appealing once Nick got in, Howard Orientation right before the call that I had been conditionally accepted here, etc. A lot changed really quickly and the moment I made the decision to stay in California or go, I may have also decided part of who I would become in college.

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Hear me out. With rising tuition fees and ever changing components to that, the in state student is very different from out of state. Howard would have meant I was a DC resident for 9 months out of the year, if not more. Our nation’s home base is very *very* different from San Luis Obispo.

One school is a PWI, a Primarily White Institution that may be considered adverse to diversity. The other is an HBCU, a historically black college/university. In just knowing that, I understand that my experience in college would be altered depending on which school I went to. In one, I would be the minority and probably never be able to forget it, whether or not it was a good thing in any situation. In the other, I would experience not being the minority for the first time in my life.

One is in DC, talk about a colder and much more political atmosphere than California. The other is in San Luis Obispo, California’s Central Coast where it’s never really warm nor cold and politics only matter in specific battles.

Do you get what I’m trying to say? I made the decision and as of now, I am happy with who I am becoming, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about what it would have meant for this Karina Williams—for the me 2 years ago—to go to Howard.

Nurture defined by environment would have been almost complete opposites from one place to the other. I can’t ignore that.

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I bring it up now because I understand there are some big decisions and changes ahead of me. I am an English major going into my senior year of college and I know that I do not want to teach. That in itself means that my path will be non traditional, again within the minority. Not because I love being “different” or finding my own path, but simply because I can’t live outside what I love. If I did, that wouldn’t be living.

Here, I am in Orientation, Cultural clubs, journalistic clubs, and I surround myself with change makers; my closest friends are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Sure, involvements in these things had to do with my nature to care about people and what makes them who they are. It also had to do with what has been necessary to keep my head above water as a minority here.

Where I go from here, well that depends on what I plan to do. I think I know what I am headed towards and passionate about, let alone the logical decision, but I can’t help but find significance in what I’ve been through and how I’ve gotten through it.

I’m a creative. By nature and by nurture, I am not living without creating something. Even if I try, I can’t not do it. I feel that pull in my heartstrings and the gravitation of my bones to do something, make something, anything, and it’s almost always present. It’s become undeniable.

I don’t know if I would be who or where I am if I did not spend the last three years here. I am almost sure I wouldn’t be the Karina you know now, but I am also pretty positive creativity is something I wouldn’t be able to ignore.

I have to do it. It’s my oxygen.

If that’s the case, where does that mean I’m going next?

Well I can’t tell you everything, I’d need to figure out details first. But after so many dreams from the medical field to publishing, I think I’m heading toward neither.

You can’t take the creative out of the girl after all, so I’m taking that and I’m running with it—no, I’m living it. Fully.

I am going to create things. Whether they’re films or companies or logos or visions, trust me when I say, I am giving it my everything (even now) because part of me has no choice. My life is in the stories I tell and drawings I create or movies I fixate on. I breathe through poetry and music. I live for the details.

And well, I am going to make all of that my life’s work. The details, the stories, the creating. It’s going to be everything I do. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t have made it through these last few years without writing and seeking out creativity the way I have through my major and my passions. And maybe it’s because that’s just who I am, a creator to the core.

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I might never know what that balance looks like in who I am, one versus the other and how much of each I am made of. But I do know that it’s who I am and what I cannot live without—nature and nurture in real time. So trust me when I say switching my major to English, going to school here, choosing to stay, they were all steps to get me to wherever I go next. After all, what comes next is going to be a big change. One that I welcome with open arms. Happy Friday night.

Time for Change

Think of the words black excellence and what comes to mind? Maybe it makes you think about my blog post last week or the poem I posted on Monday. Or at Howard University, it not only defines the pride of the student body, but also the truth of how excellent each and every student there is, from their academics to their talents. But what does it mean here at Cal Poly?

What does it mean for me?mountain beauty.jpg

Here at Cal Poly, as 1/240, the words black excellence mean representation. Sitting in my cultural Kinesiology class on Monday, we did an exercise on privilege throughout the classes demographic. The rules were simple: Take a look at the list in front of you, from not hearing racial slurs towards you to living as a majority, and add one for each that fits, subtract one for each that does not. As my class went outside and demonstrated out numbers by stepping off of a line together, the gap in our equality was unmistakable.

I took 15 steps back. The one person that far back with me? The only other African American in my class.

This is what I don’t think we emphasize enough here at Cal Poly. We are told to celebrate our similarities in that we are all here and getting a good education, but what about our differences? What about the things that make each and every one of us unique? This campus claims to be diverse, but I only see that in the sexuality of its student body. We are still a majority white campus, not to say this campus isn’t full of brilliant minds, but it’s hard to look around and know that I can count the number of black people from all of my classes this year on one hand.perilice road.jpg

There is something missing.

I believe in the beauty of diversity, of all different people from different backgrounds and different cultures striving to come together and create a better future in this world. There is something so different about a group of people who all think differently or have experienced a seperate lifestyle from one another— the ideas that can come out of a group like that, it just might change the world.

Yet I don’t know when that kind of change will happen, not when there are only 240 of us here to attempt that change at such a well reputable University. We can’t do this on our own, nevertheless it seems that nothing is changing. What about the rest of the brilliant minds who never got the chance to go to college? Or those caught up in the trials of life, too busy taking care of families and getting food on the table to even consider going back to school? We all come from different walks of life, different cultures, ethnicities, and opportunities. In a school where we take pride in our “diversity” and a world where it seems we will become the change that generations have been waiting for, I have to wonder what kind of difference we can possibly make when everyone is on the same page only because the majority is writing the book.

There has to be more than this.

In a world where tomorrow seems like it is in our hands, yet so far away at the same time, this idea leaves me restless in wondering what is to come. I can only hope it will be a brighter future than any one of us could imagine. In a quote by Maya Angelsplitshire-7553ou, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” This world is one of beauty, from both the people in it to the capabilities we all hold. Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to change this world we live in. Maybe if we’re lucky, if we can play our cards right, the words black excellence can mean more than a minority here at Cal Poly.